Radiant Black #9 is written by Kyle Higgins, illustrated by Eduardo Ferigato, colored by Marcelo Costa, and lettered by Becca Carey. It is published by Image Comics. “Life and Times” picks up after the Radiants’ battle with <001> as Marshall visits a comatose Nathan in the hospital and juggles work with superheroic duties. When Nathan’s condition worsens, Marshall takes desperate measures to save his friend from the brink of death.
In a similar vein as the debut issue and Radiant Black #6, this issue chooses to put its characters’ emotions first and foremost as Marshall grapples with his best friend clinging on to life and how his own life has been fundamentally upended after gaining control of an event horizon. This character work is what makes Higgins one of my favorite writers; he understands that the best stories don’t work if they aren’t anchored by characters the audience gets invested in. Would a Batman story work if you didn’t care about Bruce Wayne or a Spider-Man story work if you didn’t care about Peter Parker?
That same sense of character was present in Higgins’ writing of Nathan, who was struggling with his writing career and massive debt, and Satomi Sone as troubles with her relationship led to her robbing banks as Radiant Red. They both have a presence in this issue, as Nathan often appears as a ghostly vision to Marshall and Satomi expresses regret over her actions putting Nathan in the hospital. There’s even a flashback sequence establishing Nathan and Marshall connecting over their mutual love for the superhero/detective series C.O.W.L., which they watched growing up. In a neat bit of metafiction, Higgins also co-created C.O.W.L. for Image and even thanks co-creators Alec Siegel and Rod Reis on the credits page.
Ferigato establishes a rhythm to the issue, with Marshall trading insults with the high-schoolers who pass by his house, his job at the video store, and the occasional battle with a super-villain. I really love the work Ferigato does with the superheroes, which includes someone taking up the mantle of C.O.W.L. villain Doppler. There’s also a hilarious bit where Marshall, wearing his Radiant Black helmet and a Hawaiian print shirt, holds a discussion with a podcast about a potential partnership. However, the best sequence is a single wordless page where Marshall and the ghost of Nathan take a walk around their neighborhood, passing by their childhood haunts. It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and between his work on this series and Last Flight Out Ferigato proves there’s a kernel of truth in that idiom.
Radiant Black co-creator Costa once again takes up coloring duties, with a bluish-white hue falling over most of the comic due to the winter setting and the sterile feel of the hospital. It also isn’t lost on me that Marshall is shown wearing primarily black clothing since he happens to be Radiant Black. And See’s lettering is also a standout, especially when characters start yelling or Marshall slips into the same strange language of the Radiants; it’ll grab the readers’ eye.
Radiant Black #9 serves as a solid character piece and a meditation on grief, as the titular hero comes to grips with possibly losing his friend. With the next issue slated to take place inside of a black hole, this series shows no signs of slowing down and I welcome it.
Radiant Black #9 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Radiant Black #9
Radiant Black #9 serves as a solid character piece and a meditation on grief, as the titular hero comes to grips with possibly losing his friend. With the next issue slated to take place inside of a black hole, this series shows no signs of slowing down, and I welcome it.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.